Finance Minister Zdravko Maric said on Thursday that the European Commission's projection of Croatia's 2016 growth outlook of 2.1% was "a good starting point", and promised that the government would do its best to accelerate that growth.

Addressing reporters after a government meeting, Minister Maric said that the European Commission's latest Winter Forecast revised upward Croatia's previous projected growth to 2.1% from 1.4%, forecast three months ago.

"If you compare this with other EU countries, this is practically the biggest upward revision. Only a few countries have been given upward revisions for their growth," Maric said, explaining that forecasts for the biggest economies such as Germany, Italy and France had been revised downward due to certain headwind risks that had been taken into account.

"We look at our projected growth rate as a good starting point, however, this is not a growth rate that we can be satisfied with not only in our term of office but also in the medium term, and the government will do all it can to accelerate that economic growth," the minister said.

Maric said that the measures he would soon outline would be directed at boosting domestic demand and improving investment activity, which he sees as the main drivers of growth in the coming period.

Asked how much the upward revision was a result of trust in the performance of the new government that took office last month and how much it depended on the work of the previous government, Maric said that it was difficult to quantify it, but added that "the revision has been definitely impacted by the new government and its promises and programme."

The dialogue with the European Commission will continue, the EC will analyse the government's measures and how Croatia can speed up its economic growth and correct its imbalances, Maric said, informing the press that he would hold a meeting with EC representatives next week and that he would attend a meeting of the EU finance ministers towards the end of next week.

Asked how much the EC's projection of the budget gap of 3.9% of GDP for 2016 was close to the government's plans, the minister said that the cabinet's target would be to have the budget deficit around 3% of GDP, explaining that the EC had stated that under the no-policy-change assumption, the general government deficit was projected to decrease to 3.9% of GDP in 2016. 

We are here to take measures that will additionally narrow the budget deficit towards 3%, Maric said.

We intend to reduce the public deb to 80% of GDP in the next three to four years, he added.

Economy Minister Tomislav Panenic today expressed satisfaction with the EC's latest forecasts.

"I am glad that they have acknowledged the government's efforts that lead in that direction (growth). Relatedly, my economic policy will actively support that policy, primarily as regards GDP growth and job creation," the economy minister said.

Asked how much the work of the previous government had contributed to the assessment from Brussels, Panenic said that the previous government had done what it considered to be best, and that the current government believed that it could do much better.

I thank them for their efforts, and we will definitely make additional efforts to intensify activities, Panenic said.

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